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Helping a loved one with a gambling problem habit

20 May 2016 Wesley Mission news

The theme for this year’s Responsible Gambling Awareness Week focuses on the positive impact and opportunity before friends and family members of people with a problem gambling habit. Wesley Mission News spoke to Wesley Gambling Counselling Services about the typical questions that friends and family members ask.

Gambling Awareness Week 2016What should I do if I am suspicious about problem gambling behaviour?

By the time many family members or friends get in contact with us they have already reached a crisis point. Some have carried suspicions about problem gambling behaviour for a long time and many are relieved to have reassurance that they are not going crazy. When the truth about debts or large scale losses finally comes out it can be a painful moment of confrontation for both people.

The free gambling counselling service we provide is also available to family and friends of people with a problem gambling habit, not just the individuals themselves. I would recommend people to get help early, it is not shameful to have a conversation and you are not going crazy. If you notice behavioural changes that make you suspicious, such as spending more money or time invested in gambling activities, don’t dismiss these early warning signs.

What difference can friends or family members make?

Family and friends often enable their loved ones and unintentionally prolong their problem gambling habits. When gambling results in being unable to pay household bills or purchase the basics such as groceries, it is only natural that friends and family members step in to bail their loved one out. The unfortunate consequence is that it often prolongs the gambling behaviour, even though the assistance offered is coming from a really good place.

Wesley Mission’s free gambling counselling service can help friends and family members to stop enabling gambling behaviours and provide techniques so they can give emotional support without minimising the problem. Your conversation might just be the catalyst for your loved one to seek help and to begin the journey to recovery.

What should I do next?

Call for help early, before a crisis point is reached – early intervention helps to prevent relationships from breaking down. Wesley Gambling Counselling Services are free, confidential and also available to friends and family members. You don’t have to attend ‘therapy’ and we’ll support you in your individual situation, taking a personal approach. Even if it is only a single conversation, our specialisation is in supporting people in this area and we can share many practical tools and tips to prepare friends and family members to start the conversation.


For more information and support contact Wesley Gambling Counselling Services on 1800 827 638 or Gambling Help on 1800 858 858.